Teddy Bear Toss collects 10,0549 stuffed toys

Alexandra Apatiga, Reporter

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Bakersfield came out to participate in the 19th Annual Teddy Bear Toss at Rabobank Arena Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 25, where the Bakersfield Condors defeated the San Antonio Rampage 7-3, all while collecting stuffed toys for various organizations and charities.

The crowd of 8,862 people who attended the Condors’ hockey game, the third largest crowd in Teddy Bear Toss history in Bakersfield, also broke the record for the most stuffed toys thrown onto the ice during a Condors’ game. A total of 10,549 stuffed toys were collected during the Teddy Bear Toss, with fans throwing their stuffed toys over the rink wall and onto the ice following the Condors’ first goal made early in the second period by Condors’ player Brad Malone.

The tradition of the Teddy Bear Toss by the Bakersfield Condors dates back to 1999, with the first Teddy Bear Toss racking up 2,553 stuffed toys, which has only grown over the years. As of this last game, the Annual Teddy Bear Toss has collected 121,395 stuffed toys in the last 19 years.

Vice President of Communications for the Bakersfield Condors, Kevin Bartl, explained that the minor-league hockey team has been involved in the Teddy Bear Toss since its formation almost 20 years ago.

“We began the Teddy Bear Toss at the beginning of teams’ second season, and ever since it’s become one of the most anticipated games for the players and for the community,” said Bartl.

According to Bartl, the toys that are collected following the first Condors’ goal are given over to the United Way of Kern County, who then distributes the stuffed toys to various local organizations and non-profits. On average, explained Bartl, around 40 to 50 different agencies reach out to United Ways to receive stuffed toys.

“At the end of the night when we gather all the bears and finish counting them, we try and bless as many different organizations with as many stuffed toys as possible,” said Bartl.

“Our goal since day one has been to be a good community partner and use the spotlight the Condors’ have as a vehicle to some good for our community.”

Bartl shared his experience and thoughts about the Teddy Bear Toss saying, “It’s an amazing sight, it never gets old, and ours is one of the best out there.”

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